Electronic Networking

This is the third in a four-part Blog series on Cultivating Your Professional Network

Carl B. Forkner, Ph.D.

Electronic networking is easy, right? The obvious answer must be LinkedIn! Oops…not so fast…there is always a “but,” right? Networking and social media is no exception to this axiom.

Ninety-seven percent of U.S. marketers say they use social media to market their businesses.

But the social networks they prioritize vary for business-to-business (B2B) marketers, compared to business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers, according to a survey from Social Media Examiner, compiled by BI Intelligence (Smith, 2014).

  • Facebook trumps other social networks for B2C marketingSixty-eight percent of B2C marketers say Facebook is the most important social network. Twitter took 10% of the vote among B2C marketers.
  • LinkedIn is considered the most important social network for B2B marketing. One-third of marketers who sell to other businesses say the professional networking site is the top social network. Facebook was a close second, taking 31% of the vote, and then Twitter with 16%.

social-networks-for-us-b2c-in-2014

Figure 1. Most important social networks for US B2C in 2014.

social-networks-for-us-b2b-in-2014

Figure 2. Most important social networks for US B2B in 2014.

The Importance of LinkedIn

The first question you might ask is “Why LinkedIn and Facebook?” Simply put, the reason is that they are both leading platforms in the world of social media! LinkedIn in the #1 professional networking site, while Facebook is the #1 social networking site as well as a growing business venue.

most-popular-social-media-sites

Figure 3. Number of active users on the most popular social media sites.

One of the challenges with social media platforms is that people often join a site and then drift away, no longer using the site. This can be observed in both LinkedIn and Facebook, where LinkedIn has a total membership of about 364 Million users and Facebook boasts over 1.6 Billion registered accounts! That means, however, that 32 Million LinkedIn users and 250 Million Facebook users are no longer active on the sites. Beyond the total number of users, it is also important to understand how many people are actually using these sites daily—not just in raw numbers, but also in the percentage of users. Again, LinkedIn and Facebook top the list.

daily-users-on-social-media

Figure 4. Daily users on the most popular social media sites.

One statistic that is worth noting in the daily user chart is that Pinterest places #2 in the percentage of users accessing the site on a daily basis. Between 2012 and mid-2014, Pinterest grew 167% in followers and the demographic of users changed dramatically. In 2012, 80% of Pinterest users were female—by mid-2014, that number had dropped to 56%, as companies began to populate Pinterest and attract men to the site. This trend has continued; however, Pinterest—as with other social media sites—still lags far behind LinkedIn and Facebook as the right place for professional and social networking.

Numbers are great, but they only represent a quantitative view of social media users, which does not really tell much about who these people really are. Let’s next take a look at the demographics of social media users, examining five popular sites from the perspective of Millennials and Working Professionals, as well as identifying which social media platform boasts the broadest audience.

social-media-demographics-2016

Figure 5. Social media user demographics (2016).

As illustrated in Figure 5, over half of Millennials are active on Facebook, while the primary demographic for LinkedIn is working professionals. Of note, however, is the trend for the 26-34-year-old age group to be the most active among nearly all the social media platforms represented. Also note that the 26-34 age group is where the overlap occurs Millennials and working professionals (this is not to say there are not working professionals younger or older than the age range represented in Figure 3, only that this range represents the bulk of working professionals using social media on a regular basis).

A trend not shown by the spot demographics is that only slightly more than 30% of LinkedIn users are in the United States—nearly 70% are in the international community. An interesting statistic, considering the amount of business that transacts through American markets on a daily basis.

Also not indicated are trends in business users. Between 2012 and mid-2014, Pinterest’s demographics changed from 80% female/20% male to 56% female/44% male, primarily because of an increase in companies discovering the marketing value of Pinterest. Facebook had a similar renaissance, with a rapid and sustained increase in businesses establishing a Facebook presence and using the platform to direct market to consumers. With the addition of secure direct purchasing capability other than PayPal, this trend is likely to continue.

Social media has grown over the last half decade as a focus for professional networking and finding leads for business—whether searching for partners, products and services, or new careers. As alluded to in the prior discussion, the top five social media platforms have growing followings; however; the two top platforms—especially for purposes of networking and businesses—are Facebook and LinkedIn. Although Facebook is best known for social networking, increased presence by businesses—including small and medium businesses (SMBs)—has occurred since 2012, with continued growth expected as Facebook plans continued programs to allow direct purchasing through the Facebook platform instead of third-party providers.

50% of companies use Facebook to find talent
80% of companies use LinkedIn to find talent

93% of recruiters actively use LinkedIn to source new employees for client companies

LinkedIn and Facebook, being the #1 professional and social networking sites in the world, are the focus of this workshop because their usefulness in developing business networks as well as assisting people searching for their next career opportunity.

But before you can begin to use either of these leading platforms effectively, you must prepare yourself with the right information, the right goals, and the right mindset—in other words, a plan. When you delve into the world of LinkedIn, you will understand the importance of why it is important to identify your goals up front—LinkedIn uses various algorithms in the setup process that guide you through your profile development based on the goals you have set for your profile use. Although the Facebook professional page applies only limited guidance, it is equally important to define your goals for that page because the organization and setup of information on your page will not be as menu-driven as the LinkedIn program.

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Next week will be the final part of the Blog series: Cultivating Physical Networks from Electronic Contacts

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Want to learn more about business networking and the tools available to you? Dynamic Worldwide Training Consultants (@DWWTC) has training programs for every level of your business. Call 866.399.8287 today to find the business training solutions that are right for you!

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Smith, C. (2014). The most important social networks to B2C and B2B marketers.  Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-important-social-networks-to-b2c-and-b2b-marketers-2014-5

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